New Delhi: The CBI on Friday initiated a preliminary enquiry in connection with the alleged irregularities in the utilisation of coal blocks allocated to private companies between 2006 and 2009.

The agency has registered the PE, which is the first step of initiating the CBI probe, against unknown persons in connection with a complaint referred to it by the Central Vigilance Commission.

Senior CBI officials made it clear that probe would primarily focus on the alleged irregularities in utilization of coal blocks by the allotted companies between 2006 and 2009.

The Commission had forwarded the complaint of BJP leaders Prakash Javadekar and Hansraj Ahir who had alleged that first-come-first-serve basis was adopted by the government to benefit some private companies.

The CBI top brass met on Thursday and decided to start the probe in connection with the case although it found that reference received from the CVC is general allegations in which names or individual companies are not mentioned.

The orders to register the preliminary enquiry were issued on Friday, CBI sources said.

"We are happy that CVC has taken cognisance of our complaint. The CVC has written to us saying your complaints have been duly examined in the Commission having regard to the issues raised therein and the same has been forwarded to the CBI for a preliminary inquiry," Javadekar, who was accompanied by Ahir, told reporters.

The complaint also alleges that there was a delay of nearly two years in auctioning process and claims that the ministry had done so to benefit some private players.

During the enquiry, if CBI finds any incriminating evidence it would register a regular case.

The complaint also alleged that allocation of blocks to 156 companies was not proper as they had handed over operations to other companies at a premium.

It is also alleged the allottees of coal blocks did not start production themselves and outsourced the operation to third parties at a premium and pocketing the benefit.

In his complaint, Ahir had alleged that the price of 1,700 crore metric tonne of coal worth Rs 51 lakh crore was given almost free to private companies.

In a statement last year, the BJP had alleged revealed that 51 companies were allotted coal blocks in 2006, 19 companies in 2007, 41 companies in 2008 and 32 companies in 2009, at a rate of Rs 50 per metric tonne.

(Agencies)

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